HC Deb 14 March 1938 vol 333 cc12-3
19. Mr. Hopkin

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware of the continued shortage of labour for farm work in West Wales and that this drift of labour makes it impossible in some cases to obtain men to do essential work on the farm; that, in consequence, the value of the produce and the capital value is decreasing; and what he intends doing to deal with this problem?

The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. W. S. Morrison)

While it is true that in parts of the country individual farmers have experienced some difficulty in obtaining an adequate supply of farm labour, I am not aware that, speaking generally, it has been found impossible, in West Wales or elsewhere, to carry out essential farm work.

Mr. Hopkin

Is it not a fact and in every place where there is a factory put down, it is impossible to get in that district any labour for the farms?

Mr. Morrison

I am well aware that the competition of industrial undertakings accentuates the difficulty of the farm labour situation, but I would remind the hon. Member that the number of dairy cattle in the three counties has increased by six per cent. between 1933 and 1937.

23 and 24. Mr. De la Bère

asked the Minister of Agriculture (1) what steps the Government are now taking to enable the farmer to secure such a return for his produce as will allow him to pay wage rates in excess of the statutory;

(2) what steps the Government are now taking to improve the supply of skilled agricultural labourers, in view of the serious effect to the industry caused by the present shortage.

Mr. Morrison

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to him on 28th October last.

Mr. De la Bère

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware how grave is the problem of the shortage of skilled agricultural labour, that it is almost a national calamity and that if it is not tackled courageously it may lead to discontent, disorder and considerable confusion?

Mr. Morrison

I am aware of the gravity of the problem, and if my hon. Friend will turn to the answer to which I have referred he will see that there is a statutory undertaking to deal with it.